Genre: Educational Developer: Arnowitz Studios Publisher: Software Toolworks Players: 1 Released: 1994
I was really raking through the slime and crap in the bottom of the barrel of the Sega CD library when decided to sit down and give this so called “game” the time of day just for the sake of this review. The Animals isn’t a game at all; it’s an educational program along the same lines as Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia for the Sega CD, and I don’t know how this ever got the green light back when it was released in 1994 on the Sega CD. Yeah, I know the CD-i and the 3DO were littered with this kind of stuff, but despite the Sega CD being bogged down with poor FMV games, it seemed to dodge the bullet at least as far as educational only software went. Still, somehow this slipped through the cracks and helped with the demise of the Sega CD.
I know you can’t expect much from an educational program like this at least being released on a console, but I at least had some mild hopes of it being at least a semi interesting thing to kill an hour or so with. I popped this in figuring the San Diego Zoo endorsed an encyclopedia with all of the different animal breeds and species, but what I was treated to when I started perusing it was not an encyclopedia but a virtual tour of the San Diego Zoo and a poor one to put it mildly. The easiest way to describe the basics of this disc would be to take all those signs, videos, and listening devices for each animal that are next to the viewing windows of the cages and compile all of that onto a disc and call that a tour.
When you start the program up it starts you off on a map of the zoo and gives you control of this little monkey looking character, and you can move him around the map and select different parts of the zoo to tour. If you choose the zoo entrance, then you get a basic overview of the zoo and its mission statement and some other nonsense. If you run around the map you can just decide to visit the Aquatic animals, or the mountain-based animals or African animals. Once you’ve selected your destination you can view several video clips of daily routines of animal feeding or how the zoo is trying to bring such and such a species back from the endangered list. After the videos are done then you can view some still pictures and some notes. Once you’ve seen all of that then it’s time to choose another area and do the same useless thing over and over again. Pretty boring at best!
If you don’t really want to tour the zoo then you can go into the options menu view the zoo without traversing the map and just going through each area in a predetermined order. It also gives you the option to just pick certain animals out of the menu and learn about them and watch their videos and view their pics. There are some more options that are all the more useless. You can choose some options in the menu, all of literally take about two minutes each to load, allowing you just to view the still images alphabetically by animal. Another allows you just to view the videos only and another still, allows you to listen to audio clips of all the animal sounds without video. Yeah, it’s about as stupid as it sounds.
The video quality is atrocious even with the Sega CD’s limited video capabilities taken into consideration. The video only uses the center twenty five percent or so of the screen and it’s extremely blurry and grainy and looks like it’s suffering from major compression issues. Many times, they had a person speaking and they had their name displayed at the bottom of the video, but it was too blurry to even read them. The audio should be really clean here, or so you’d think, but everything is tinny and pitchy and just sounds bad. The animal audio clips are the worst part of the disc as you’d be hard-pressed to tell what some of the sound effects were without the disc telling you.
As I stated earlier, I don’t know why this was released or why anyone would even pay the original $40 MSRP for it. The video is too small on screen for it to even be used in a classroom setting, and I don’t know how this could even be beneficial in a home setting for homework. When it comes to it this is just a completely and utterly useless piece of marketing trash that somehow landed on the Sega CD. Honestly, just the idea of it is put to shame by even the worst FMV games on the Sega CD. Yes, even the Make My Video series too! It doesn’t seem to be a very common disc, and I don’t even remember how I came to own my copy but do yourself a favor and don’t even bother with it and just forget it even exists!
SCORE: 1 out of 10